The US Navy accused one of its sailors on Thursday, July 29, of being the cause of a spectacular fire that destroyed a military ship in July 2020 in San Diego, California, leaving around 20 injured.
The sailor, who was part of the crew of the amphibious assault ship
USS Bonhomme Richard
"is accused of starting the fire,"
3rd Fleet spokesman Commander Sean Robertson said in a statement. , without identifying it, nor specifying the potential intentionality of the gesture.
Read also: Spectacular fire aboard a military ship in California
According to the military justice code, the accusation was served on him on Thursday.
3rd Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Steve Koehler, who plans to court him, has tasked an independent military judge to decide at a preliminary hearing whether he should be formally charged.
"The evidence gathered during the investigation is sufficient to order a preliminary hearing in accordance with the code of military justice,"
said Commander Robertson.
17 sailors and four civilians injured
SS Bonhomme Richard
was docked at Naval Base San Diego, its home port, for maintenance operations when the fire broke out on July 12, 2020. Some 160 sailors were in on board the ship.
According to the naval forces, 17 sailors and four civilians were slightly injured and taken to hospital.
Several firefighters had also suffered burns and inhaled smoke.
Read also: At least 20 dead after boat fire in California
The ship had burned for four days before firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze. The US Navy had planned for a time to repair it but the damage was such that it had been scrapped in early 2021. The loss is considered one of the most significant for the US Navy in peacetime.